The Bay Area

Just to clarify for the East Coast peeps, that means the area surrounding the San Francisco Bay. When Flight and I were first dating some eleventy billion years ago he identified it as such and was flabbergasted when I ask to which bay he was referring.   Maybe it was his provincial LA upbringing where everything east of The 5 was considered “Back East,” but he incredulously replied, “THE Bay. The San Francisco Bay, of course. What other Bay Area is there?” Having spent “Four Years by THE Bay,” I fired back, “Well, the Chesapeake Bay for one….”

Apparently by living west of the Mississippi for most of my adult life (and being married to Flight) I have adopted this West Coast frame of reference and was newly reminded that I, too, need to specify Bay location. I recently had a text exchange with a friend still teaching at USNA. I mentioned we were heading to the Bay Area next and she asked that I let her know when we could hang out after we get here (meaning there).

Oops.

I’ll again leave the discussion of transit from Caspar Beach to Alamo to Flight as I have nothing to add (I, um, knit and wrote some more…), save taking a few pictures as we progressed through about a dozen redwood groves. I will say it felt just wrong to be lumbering through these resting giants.

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So, at last we arrived in the East Bay Area (of the San Francisco variety) welcoming the opportunity to soak in some time with family and stay put for a stretch (minus a planned short diversion to overnight at Stanford following a football game). As Flight mentioned, we’ve been going, going, going and could all use a reprieve from the frenetic pace. And access to a relatively unlimited on demand hot water supply (Northern California is officially out of drought status). And flushable toilets that don’t require consequent dumping.   You know, the basic luxuries.

Upon arrival we methodically worked through laundry and noted that undertaking is a much more sizable beast when tackling it one load at a time instead of knocking out numerous loads simultaneously at whatever Laundromat is nearest. I made the opportunity to do a no kidding assessment of where we were on the homeschool front and what needed to happen now that we had all reluctantly moved into the school year in earnest. More on that in my summary at two-months in…

A quick check-in with Flight’s sister and her family of athletes told us nothing had changed for them, meaning their frenetic schedule had slowed only nanoseconds since the departure of their oldest to eat, sleep, breathe water polo (and also go to college classes) at Pepperdine. Their younger two both anchor their respective varsity teams at College Park High School with all the practice, travel, and game time that involves. Just writing about it is exhausting. Unfortunately, Flight had two work trips scheduled during our stretch in town and they had to travel for various sporting events, so we had very small windows of opportunity to let the cousins reconnect and got something on the calendar immediately. As in our next evening in town.

We joined them for a lovely dinner (they have a great outdoor space for entertaining) and our contribution was Creamy Pumpkin Prosciutto Rigatoni, another of my favorite Fall recipes.

Our first days without Flight passed in Alamo, tackling school first and then relaxing with Grammy and Papa until the evening’s sporting event.   First, our niece rocking volleyball…

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I can mostly follow volleyball. After a less than stellar performance as a swimmer my freshman year in high school, I had a good friend convince me I should try out for the volleyball team (she was a rock star setter).  Frankly, team sports weren’t big for me growing up, which means I lacked (and mostly still do) the fundamentals of every single one.  While my Mom had played varsity basketball in college, I only had a dismal appearance on the middle school team where I mostly sat the bench.  I know I’m wrong envisioning her running the court in something like what’s pictured below, especially considering it predates her court time by more than half a century, but I just can’t help myself.  Maybe that’s why I never really learned to play hoops.

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Or any other traditional American team sport really.  It would appear that I inherited my Dutch-Indonesian father’s lack of interest in such activities and, as a result, didn’t quite get the basic strategies of play. At the end of high school volleyball try-outs, the last spot came down to me and another sophomore who had played the previous year and, based on my cluelessness and her relative savvy, she made the team and I did not. After a couple days’ (self) pity party, I tried out for the diving team, which worked out much better for everybody involved, most especially the volleyball team.

With some (albeit it shaky and rather dated) foundation in the rules, I truly enjoy watching volleyball. At our niece’s game I was surprised to learn of a new (to me) position that was actually introduced over a decade ago. The libero is a player who wears a contrasting jersey and is strictly defensive, meaning she or he plays only in the back row, can occasionally set the ball but only from behind the 3-meter line, and rarely serves. My sister-in-law let me know that the libero is often someone who is more vertically challenged than her or his teammates. It’s too bad that position was so long in developing, that pretty much defined where I might have fit in. Ah well…

Our niece, however, is a fantastic player no matter where she is on the court. As our girls will likely never have any height advantage to speak of, I’m not sure they will have the makings of volleyball players, but they sure enjoyed watching their cousin.

The next day the kids picked an enormous bucket’s worth of apples from Grammy and Papa’s tree and we made apple sauce in the magical Instant Pot.

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Following our foraging and preserving lesson for the day, we got to see our youngest nephew playing water polo.  After scoring the his third goal of the game, his sister started the cheer, “He’s a freshman!  He’s a freshman!”, letting the opposing team know they had three years of such future beatings ahead of them.

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I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a water polo match in person, but the sport is just plain dirty. There is so much nastiness that goes on under water.   Sometimes the players look not unlike gators rolling their prey.  Seriously.  Furthermore, if players are really good at it, they can have an arm or two above their heads while seeming to have no notion of how the slow death roll consuming their opponent is happening.  It was tricky to follow the refs’ calls on what constituted a foul and/or who was responsible for incurring said grievance.  All I saw was flailing, followed sometimes by whistles and occasional player ejections, sometimes not.  And, truthfully, I’m not sure watching more games would help me clue in.  Having been a diver (of the springboard/tower variety and not scuba), I have many friends who played water polo and have always questioned their sanity in playing the grueling sport. After refreshing my memory of the game’s particulars, I am still convinced that those who choose to play are phenomenal athletes, without a doubt, but also certifiable.

Maybe it was too much for Firebolt. She was consumed by her latest book and couldn’t be bothered with the game. Have we mentioned she’s a bookworm?

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Having seen the team uniform for female water polo players, I’m okay with that. Flight’s parents commented on the inappropriate garb for young ladies when we saw some of the high school girls’ team players departing the pool. I thought they were making it up. Or maybe said “team uniform” was a weird California thing.  Or something. Not believing that’s really what female water polo players wear in the pool, I Googled it. I will not be responsible for images you can’t unsee, so I won’t link to what I found. However, feel free to Google it yourself, if you are so inclined.

Yikes. That’s all I have to say about that…

Next up, the Cardinal take on the Sun Devils. I will tackle (I know, terrible pun) that next…

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